Group of Seven Discovery Route: Algoma Country, Sault Ste. Marie and The North Shore of Lake Superior
2020 marked the 100th Anniversary of the foundation of the Group of Seven, some of Canada’s most celebrated artists.
Connect the art on the walls to the landscapes, vistas and waterways that fascinated the artists of the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson.
Visit Ontario’s Algoma Country and the North Shore of Lake Superior to experience the transcendental landscapes that inspired some of their best-known art and to understand their development as individual artists and as a ‘group’.
Prior to travel, please contact the individual galleries and businesses to ensure you have the most up-to-date opening dates, times and other pertinent information due to COVID-19. Stay safe and healthy.
Key Stops, Attractions and Landscapes
1. Aubrey Falls Provincial Park, 85 kilometres north of Thessalon on Hwy 129
Located along Highway 129, view the Moments of Algoma interpretive sign in the shape of an artist’s stool and easel.
Connect to the canvas: waterfalls and the movement of water within the Algoma region are themes in J. E. H. MacDonald’s Agawa River, Algoma, c. 1920 from the Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario and Lawren S. Harris’ On the Agawa River, Algoma, c. 1919 from the National Gallery of Canada.
2. Bruce Mines
Appreciate the landscapes around Bruce Mines, about sixty-five kilometres east of Sault Ste. Marie on Highway 17.
Connect to the canvas: this area inspired Tom Thomson’s View Over a Lake, Shore with Houses, c. 1913, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.
3. Algoma Scenic Flight Tours, 6-475 Airport Road, Sault Ste. Marie
Soar above the Algoma wilderness on a scenic aerial tour with the Sault Academy of Flights, and view numerous Group of Seven painting sites scattered below.
Connect to the canvas: spot the Batchawana Rapids and surrounding river system which helped to inform MacDonald’s painting study titled a variation on the name Batchawana Rapid, Algoma, c. 1920 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
4. Algoma Central Railway Station, Sault Ste. Marie
Find a Moments of Algoma interpretive panel and replica handcart similar to the velocipede that was used to transport the painters up and down the rail lines at the Algoma Central Railway Station.
5. Agawa Canyon Tour Train, Sault Ste. Marie
Book a seat on this breath-taking, one-day, 184 kilometre round trip train tour through the heart of Canada’s ruggedly beautiful landscape. The GPS triggered narration is available in five languages via wireless headsets. Note: 2020/21 season is cancelled, plan for the following year.
Connect to the canvas: you’ll pass several sites captured by the Group of Seven, such as Algoma Country’s characteristic rolling hills, captured in J. E. H. MacDonald’s Algoma Hills, c. 1920, part of ‘A Like Vision’: The Group of Seven at 100, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, as well as the location of Lawren S. Harris’ study for Waterfall, Algoma Canyon, c. 1919 on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario as part of the Thomson Collection
6. Art Gallery of Algoma, 10 East Street, Sault Ste. Marie
Just a stone’s throw from the shoreline of the St. Marys River, this gallery’s permanent summer collection includes several Group of Seven site specific sketches and studies. Pick up unique Group of Seven-related books, calendars and memorabilia in the Gift Shop.
7. Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site, 800 Bay Street, Sault Ste. Marie
This historic site depicts the domestic and political life of Charles Oakes Ermatinger between 1808 and 1870, in two of the oldest stone buildings northwest of Toronto.
Connect to the canvas: look for fall dates of the Moments in Algoma: A Group of Seven Experience dinner theatre events to commemorate the 100 year anniversary as a formed group.
8. Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, 50 Pim Street, Sault Ste. Marie
Interactive aviation museum dedicated to preserving the history of bush flying and forest protection.
Connect to the canvas: experience the Algoma wilderness in the Flight Adventure Simulator to gain a sense of the rugged natural beauty that captivated the artists. The velocipede on display was used in the movie Painted Land: In Search of the Group of Seven.
9. The Machine Shop, 83 Huron Street, Sault Ste. Marie
This historic multi-use venue is home to the recreated boxcar #10557 featured in the TVO Painted Land: In Search of the Group of Seven documentary, and provides insight into how the Group would have lived while painting in remote, rail only access areas.
Connect to the canvas: Autumn, Batchewana Lake, Algoma Sketches XXIX c. 1918 on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario by Lawren S. Harris is an example of the small painting study they completed during the day before returning to their boxcar.
10. Chippewa Falls Rest Stop, Highway 17, Havilland
Comfortable facilities and a viewing bridge make this a popular spot to stretch your legs and take in the scenery.
Connect to the canvas: this set of rapids inspired A. Y. Jackson’s sketch Stream Bed, Lake Superior Country c. 1955, National Gallery of Canada.
11. The General Store at Voyageur’s Lodge and Cookhouse, Highway 17 North, Batchawana Bay and Agawa Crafts and The Canadian Carver, Highway 17 North, Pancake Bay
Shop for Group of Seven and other art inspired merchandise, as well as Indigenous arts and crafts.
12. Lake Superior Provincial Park, Highway 17 North
Before hiking the scenic lookouts along Awausee Trail or the Agawa River, stop in at the Visitor Centre for a Group of Seven display with an interpretive panel and replica railway handcart. Pick up a ‘painting box’ to express your own creativity when out on the trails.
Connect with the canvas: learn about Lawren S. Harris’ Northern Lake, c. 1926 onsite, you can view the painting at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
13. Sandy Beach Eco-Interpretive Park, Wawa
Along the shoreline of Sandy Beach at Michipicoten Harbour is an impressive Group of Seven interpretive installation.
Connect to the canvas: stand in the spot where A.Y. Jackson was inspired to create Shoreline, Wawa, Lake Superior,c 1959, Hamilton Art Gallery.
14. Naturally Superior Adventures, 8 kilometres south of Wawa
Perched on the edge of Lake Superior at the mouth of the Michipicoten River, Naturally Superior Adventures offers guided paddling, hiking and photography workshops that showcase the landscapes and rivers captured by the Group of Seven and other artists. Look for special workshops with photographer, James Smedley.
15. Pukaskwa National Park, south of Marathon
Perched on the shoreline of Lake Superior, this national gem boasts splendid hiking, paddling and wilderness adventure.
Connect to the canvas: the Moments of Algoma interpretive panel at Horseshoe Beach features A.Y. Jackson’s Entrance to Puckasawa Bay, c 1960, currently part of the permanent collection at the Art Gallery of Algoma.
16. Marathon District Museum and Historical Society, Marathon
Hear local stories and view photographs related to the Group of Seven.
Connect to the canvas: Lawren S. Harris’ The Ice House, c. 1923 is part of an installation, the original hangs at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
17. Neys Provincial Park, Terrace Bay
The awe-inspiring vistas in this park drew the artists back to the area for many years. You too can experience unmatched views along the 9-kilometre round-trip Pic Island Overlook Trail from Prisoner’s Cover to a gazebo. Or get an elevated perspective on an aerial tour with Wilderness Helicopters.
Connect to the canvas: Pic Island was immortalized by Lawren S. Harris in many of his paintings and sketches, like Lake Superior Island, c. 1923 and Pic Island, Lake Superior, c. 1924.
18. Coach House Motel, ON-17, Jackfish
Once a bustling fishing and shipping port visited by the Group of Seven, the town of Coldwell Bay is now abandoned. Get a great view of Coldwell Bay from the Coach House Motel at Jackfish Lake, just 20 kilometres east of Terrace Bay.
19. Terrace Bay Lighthouse, Simcoe Plaza, Terrace Bay
Take a selfie sitting on the artist’s stool at the base of the lighthouse at the Moments of Algoma Interpretive panel, then climb up to take in the view.
Connect to the canvas: this view inspired Slate Islands, Lake Superior, c. 1921 by A.Y. Jackson.
Hike the trails to vistas that inspired members of the Group of Seven. Blaq Bear Eco Adventures will set you up with a picnic lunch, transportation, park passes, and directions to specific Group of Seven locations.
Tips and Resources
- Get a map and information on all the Moments of Algoma interpretive panels.
- Set the stage for your trip by watching Painted Land, In Search of the Group of Seven, White Pine Productions.
- Listen to Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’ that tells the true story of the wrath of Lake Superior in November 1975 and pianist Glenn Gould’s 1981 interpretation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, which was influenced by the time he spent in Algoma between 1967 and 1975.
- Avid stamp collector? Find Canada Post’s collectible stamps issued in 1995 which feature Group of Seven paintings, three of which link with locations in Algoma.
- Some of these stops are seasonal, book ahead and double check operating hours and dates to avoid disappointment.
- Contact Sault Ste. Marie Tourism for assistance with group itineraries.